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Interview:
Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience at the Fillmore, 5 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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When he started touring with Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience six years ago, Bonham admits he "wasn't overly keen" about the idea.

"When you look at it on paper you go, 'Really? The son of the drummer's gonna go out and play Led Zeppelin music?,'" the 50-year-old son of Zep's late John Bonham, who's Sept. 23, 1980 death broke up the band. "It was a fight. And I had just played with the rule boys, so..."

Nevertheless, it's proved to be a winning proposition. Bonham -- who, in fact, played with his father's bandmates at Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary concert during 1988 and in 2007 at the O2 Arena in London -- has turned the Experience show into a highly personal multi-media celebration during which he tells stories, shows family films and photos and even performs a drum solo with his father, via video. He plays a select number of dates each year, and the Zep faithful have embraced it as the most credible of the myriad tribute shows out there.

The song may remain the same, but rest assured that six years in there's a whole lotta love for the way Bonham and company play them...

Bonham says that it's the fans who helped him get over any reservations he had about the Led Zeppelin Experience show. "As the first run went on I realized this was way more than my story," says Bonham, who also toured with Zep guitarist Jimmy Page in 1988, was a member of Foreigner and is part of the all-star Black Country Communion and Sammy Hagar's Circle. "Everyone came to me with their stories about what Led Zeppelin meant to them, from sad stories to, 'I saw them back in the day and I don't remember much about it 'cause I was so high, and I brought my kid with me who brought a kid with him...' They've kind of very much accepted me as being part of the family."

And Bonham IS part of the Zep family -- not only literally but musically as well, even from a young age. "I've been involved even back in the days with 'The Song Remains the Same' and various studio visits," he says. "On 'Presence,' for instance, I was with 'em and started jamming with them in (the studio). My audition started a long time ago, playing the real stuff. As Jimmy Page said, 'It's not like Jason's a new guy...'"

John Bonham died when he was 32, and Jason Bonham says that playing the heavy hitter's parts is an even greater challenge at 50. "When I do that 'Moby Dick' solo with my dad during the shows, I have to remember I'm double his age now," the younger Bonham notes. "I'm 50 and he's, like, 25 (in the video). I"m sucking for air a little bit at the end of it, as you can imagine."

Bonham is always asked if the surviving members of Led Zeppelin will get together again -- and he has an answer, sort of. "Back in 2004 I finally let go of it. I just said to myself, 'Y'know, don't ever think it's gonna happen, not even in the back of your mind. Let it go,'" he explains. "So I did, and when I let it go what happens? You get a phone call in 2007. So all I'll say is I'm gonna let it go. As far as I know nothing's going to happen -- but if I let it go, you never know."

Bonham did enjoy listening to the Page-curated Led Zeppelin reissues that came out during late 2015 and into 2016. "There was (unreleased) stuff on there I thought I would've heard but I hadn't," he notes. "It's always hard to hear the alternate versions of the songs that weren't quite as good as the originals, but it's nice to see the process of how they got from A to B. Jimmy never used to like to share that part; It's giving your secrets away, in certain way. Being able to listen to that, you can really hear the creative side of that band, which is very, very cool indeed."

Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience

Friday, Dec. 2. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are $30-$75.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.


Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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